The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2011 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

STATUS OF RESPIRATORY THERAPISTS IN SAUDI ARABIA: A NATIONAL SURVEY.

Ghazi Alotaibi; Respiratory Care, University of Dammam, Dammam, Saudi Arabia

BACKGROUND: Studies have shown that provision of respiratory care by dedicated and specialized professionals improves outcome and reduce cost of care. Respiratory care has been practiced as a specialty in Saudi Arabia since late 1970s when some military-affiliated hospitals introduced respiratory care services and sponsored scholarships to train Saudi nationals in Respiratory Care. The current status of respiratory therapists in Saudi Arabia in terms of number, supply, and demand has not been investigated. Therefore, we conducted this descriptive survey study to provide a general profile of respiratory therapists in Saudi Arabia. METHODS: A special questionnaire was designed to collect staffing, education, and demographic data. A list of government, military, and private hospitals was obtained from the Ministry of Health (MOH). Data were gathered from each hospital in the Kingdome of Saudi Arabia (KSA) provided that the hospital employs respiratory therapists. Data gathering was performed via self-administered questionnaire or telephone survey of RC department managers. RESULTS: out of the 411 hospitals surveyed, only 88 (21.4%) hospitals employ Respiratory Therapists. Out of the 88 hospitals that employ RTs, only 38 (43%) have RT departments. This study showed that there are 1477 active RTs in KSA, 371 (25%) of them are Saudi Nationals. About 60% of total RT workforce works in critical care units. Gender distribution is fairly shared out (53% female, 47% male). In terms of education, 70% of RTs hold Baccalaureate degree, 20% Diploma, and about 5.4% of RTs practice the profession without formal education. Only 15% of total RTs hold NBRC credentials. Geographical distribution of the workforce indicates that 50% of RTs are in the central province of the country. Respiratory care coverage of intensive care units as benchmarked against recommended standards is 53% of in central province, and as low as 13.6% in southern part of the country. Actual RT-to-ICU beds ratio was 1:9 in the central province, 1:37 in southern province, 1:20 in MOH hospitals, and 1:9 in semi-governmental hospitals. CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS: There is a severe shortage of Respiratory Therapists in KSA. We estimated a current need of 2428 Respiratory Therapists. Special academic programs must be designed for RTs who entered the field with inadequate training. There is a pressing need for a National credentialing system to ensure minimum standard of practice. Sponsored Research - None